To Print, or Not to Print

Contributed by CS-Graphic Design Inc.

It’s no surprise to say that digital technologies have drastically altered the printing industry over the past couple decades. Our company has witnessed and experienced these changes firsthand.

In the past 5 years alone we’ve noticed an 85% drop in printing revenues. Our clients are no longer evaluating the benefits of printing large volumes and storing their finished pieces. Instead, clients are readily printing smaller quantities, and making digital versions of a project available online.

Printing a smaller quantity and going digital ensures the broadest reach for marketing and communications projects, which is a wise choice. However, there are still a few things that clients should be aware of when deciding to go this route. Although digital and traditional printers may be able to offer competitive rates, it’s a good idea to know the pros and cons of both printing styles.

Unquestionably, there are many advantages to digital printing. The most significant is likely cost savings. Printing digitally often requires minimal set-up, which can reduce overall costs. It also offers more flexibility; short print runs are easily done and need less lead-time, making them available on-demand. Personalization is another major advantage of digital printing. In fact, in the consumer markets the personalization of products is a growing trend; consider customized photo books, phone cases, T-shirts, etc.

That being said, digital printing does have some limitations. When it comes to solid colour blocks and gradations, digital presses tend to be less consistent than conventional printing presses. The result can be uneven coverage, colour differences or noticeable lines in a gradient, all of which affect the quality of the finished product. Of course, these results will vary depending on the equipment being used.

Conversely, colour consistency and accuracy is the main advantage of conventional (4-colour process) printing. In addition to process printing, using Pantone colours on a project should guarantee exactness between current and future printings, and also between printers.

To reduce the high cost of process printing, more gang-run printers have been established. By running multiple jobs on a single, large sheet ganging), these printers are able to offer reduced printing prices. So, if a job needs to be low budget, and printed on a conventional press, this can be a very good solution.

On the other hand, gang-run printers generally do not offer the same level of service as other print shops. Since the press sheet includes multiple jobs, this style of printing tends to focus on overall even colour. This means that colour will be less highly scrutinized than an individual print run. And if a customer is unhappy with the result, the onus is generally on them to organize or pay for a re-printing.

It’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of both styles of printing. This will help you make an informed decision that will undoubtedly benefit your project. Whatever you decide, printing remains a viable and important means of reaching your target audience.